If we really want change in Canada, this is the cohort we all need to pay attention to.
If he could have invited the convoy of chronically disgruntled people to just one event to celebrate Canada Day, it would have been the 12th grade graduation earlier this week at Ottawa’s Notre Dame Catholic High School.
This is, as Principal JP Cloutier told the audience of beaming graduates, families and friends, “a unique school.
“They didn’t let a pandemic stop them,” Principal Clouthier said, praising the 76 students donning their caps and gowns for persevering through “some of the toughest years in the history of education.” And something else.
In a school that is also ethnically, socially, and economically diverse, many of these young adults brought to high school the kind of baggage that many of us only have for reading and chatting. Or reflect while sitting in a hot tub outside the Parliament buildings.
The young man I was there to see walk across the stage is just one example. In addition to a pandemic that drove us all crazy, he also endured more than two years living in emergency housing, hotel rooms, with four brothers. She frequently missed school to care for the little ones so her mother could get to her job as a personal support worker. He was stoic for over four years as bureaucracies clashed, bureaucracy stretched and tangled, permits were granted, then revoked, then stalled as his father sought to join his family here. It was a bittersweet irony that Dad finally pulled it off, arriving at the Ottawa airport just hours before seeing his son graduate. However, he will be here this fall to see his remarkable son head off to college to study software engineering.
The valedictorian at this quintessential Canadian event spoke maturely and eloquently about sacrifice, perseverance and success. His parents fled the civil war and political conflicts in Myanmar “so that my brothers and I could live in Canada.
“You will never again feel the tender touch of your parents, you will never again laugh hysterically with your siblings, you will never again see the sunrise in your homeland,” he said, all so that he could see his children do something they had never been given. the opportunity. to do: accept a high school diploma.
Had the protesters been able to sit with these young people at graduation, they would have heard the roars, claps, and howls of children of all colors, stripes, and types. Essentially the colors of Canada. They are also the people who could appear at our bedside in the future as doctors, personal support workers, nurses. For those of you protesters looking for lawyers, you may have noticed the name of the student who ran off with a lucrative prize from an Ottawa law firm.
You probably missed seeing this demographic from the cab of a truck last winter because so many of these young people, and their parents, were literally afraid to show their faces downtown during your occupation.
You may not have known, as you danced and grilled and forced the closure of many shops and services, that many people in the National Capital Region had to miss necessary and coveted shifts in jobs that not only fed families and paid bills bills, but—for many young people—were also shoring up savings for postsecondary education this fall.
So you may not have seen them during your last visit to Ottawa. You may not even see them this long weekend, because again, their presence may have deterred many residents and tourists from participating in the Canada Day celebrations that we all look forward to and that, given the pandemic restrictions that most of us we watch, all desperately need.
But here’s a heads up: they’re on their way. And if we really want change in Canada, this cohort is the convoy we should all get behind.
Becky Rynor is a writer from Ottawa.